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Job applications

Updating author: Lynda Macdonald


Employers should make it clear to all potential job applicants how they should apply for the vacant post, and in particular whether an application form should be requested, or a CV and covering letter submitted. The submission of CVs (as opposed to the completion of company application forms) means that those responsible for recruitment have to glean information from a range of different styles and formats, making it more difficult to assess each one objectively against the employee specification.

  • The core provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland (but not to Northern Ireland), came into force on 1 October 2010.
  • The Equality Act 2010 largely consolidates and replaces previous anti-discrimination legislation, ie the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1661), the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1660) and the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1031).
  • The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (and existing workers) because of a "protected characteristic". The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
  • The Equality Act 2010 applies to every stage of the recruitment process, including the design, interpretation and processing of job application forms. (See Application forms)
  • Personal details that are required for the processing of the application should be contained on a tear-off portion of the application form rather than being integrated into the main form. (See Application forms)
  • Questions enquiring whether or not candidates require an adjustment to be made in respect of job interviews or other assessments should be phrased without reference to disability, so that disabled job applicants can request adjustments without the need to disclose the nature of their disabilities. (See Questions about health or disability)
  • Application forms should be designed to include a statement that the employer intends to process the information provided by the job applicant and asking the employee to signify his or her consent to this. (See The implications of the Data Protection Act 1998)
  • The Data Protection Act 1998 contains restrictions on the type of information that employers are allowed to gather about job applicants. (See Sensitive data)
  • There is no law that specifically requires employers to monitor the gender, ethnic origin, disability, age or marital status of their workforce but it is nevertheless good practice to do so. (See Information gathered for monitoring purposes)
  • Monitoring the sexual orientation of employees is likely to be a particularly sensitive issue, but collecting data on religion or belief may help employers to understand their employees' needs and assist with business planning. (See Information gathered for monitoring purposes)